Asset-level Energy Benchmarking Part 2: Realizing ROI

Patrick Everitt

In my first installment of this blog series, I reviewed a few best practices for planning and managing asset-level benchmarking at your facility. Like almost any undertaking, it involves careful planning and communicating across your facilities and with trade allies.

So here’s the question we are asked: why do the work to benchmark at the asset level rather than just benchmark overall facility performance? Well, different assets tell a different story. By benchmarking energy use at the asset level, you’ll gain much deeper insight into the performance and operating condition of expensive energy-consuming capital investments, such as HVAC, lighting and refrigeration equipment. Meanwhile, technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that gathering asset-level energy consumption and performance insight isn’t just possible, it’s cost-effective and incredibly beneficial to efficient, sustainable operations.

To reiterate a point I made in my last post, it’s important to note that the return on the technology investment required to enable asset-level benchmarking is zero. It’s the actions taken to reduce energy consumption and improve asset performance —the actions enabled by benchmarking—that drive return.

Most organizations choose to implement asset-level benchmarking and monitoring for one or both of two reasons: to pinpoint energy consumption anomalies in an effort to meet consumption reduction and savings goals, and to proactively monitor asset performance, thereby reducing maintenance costs. Asset level performance data can deliver on these objectives and empower facilities managers to:

  • Quickly identify anomalous assets, such as HVAC equipment that’s simultaneously heating and cooling, excessive equipment run time or a stuck damper via fault detection diagnostics and alarms
  • Direct facilities staff to focus on assets that have the most significant impact and benefit to the organization
  • Escalate the issue to involve remote or on-site technical assistance
  • Ensure and document the resolution of specific asset performance issues

By identifying the most compelling opportunities for energy reduction efforts, organizations can immediately realize savings of 20 percent or more. Plus, facilities managers can discover which capital assets are malfunctioning or in danger of failure and adopt a more proactive maintenance and replacement strategy.

The Final Step: Future-proof Your Investment

Now that you’ve done the planning and work to implement benchmarking and monitoring, take care to choose progressive vendors that can implement scalable solutions and “future-proof” technologies to avoid the obsolescence of your investment. Ask vendors to demonstrate:

  • The long-term return on their solutions
  • Thorough training that will serve to facilitate user acceptance
  • System update frequency and protocol
  • Help desk/call center access
  • References to installations that demonstrate scalability

I hope that this information on asset-level benchmarking has been helpful. Planning and implementation will drive action, which will deliver financial returns on your investment. Ensure meters and sub-meters at every level are armed with the information they need to make the program more compelling to your organization’s specific goals. Take a thoughtful look at the bigger picture—the environment your organization wants to create and the efficiencies it wants to gain—and a thorough analysis of how asset-level data can help achieve that vision.

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